Friday, August 31, 2012

Dark Eldar 6th Ed. Tactica Part 1: HQ's

Hey There, and welcome to the first installment of my comprehensive Dark Eldar Tactica! Today we're covering HQ choices, including special characters.

Jwhite hear to bring you fellow Denizens a comprehensive, multiple part survival guide for your cults and kabals in 6th edition. Now I loved playing Dark Eldar in 5th edition; tactical prowess resulted in huge rewards for those who could properly manage the lightning fast but infinitely fragile glass cannon. With the onset of 6th, the army got several big buffs, but also took a couple of key hits. This tactica is designed to give you a unit by unit analysis of the different choices in the codex, along with tactical advice on how to use such units. This is by no means the final word on Dark Eldar, and is only my opinion. Hopefully my experience with the army in 6th can give you fellow players some insight into how to dominate the battlefield like a true Archon!

Archon - By far my favorite HQ unit in the book, the Archon's value is in his versatility. One of the mandatory upgrades for this relatively fragile fellow is the Shadowfield. A 2++ suddenly turns this HQ into an absolute tank, and you'll find yourself putting as many wounds on him as possible just to protect the rest of the unit. I don't think I've ever taken one of these guys without the trusty shadowfield, and it has slowly become one of my favorite wargear options in the game. Failing it once isn't usually a big deal, at T3 this guy is pretty easy to insta-kill, so you're basically always getting that precious 2++. As far as other upgrades go, lately I've been taking a blast pistol, because BS 7 loves shooting a S8 AP2 weapon, and being a character, he could potentially pick his shots too! If you have some spare points, haywire grenades or combat drugs are never bad to have, but the biggest dilemma is his close combat weapon. In 5th edition, a huskblade or agonizer were the clear cut choices, but with power weapons only being AP 3, I've found tons of value in the lowly 5pt venom blade. Six attacks on the charge at WS 7 and wounding on a 2+ makes this guy a lot more reliable against TEQ, and while less effective against MEQ than an agonizer, the versatility of the venom blade wins out. Most of the other upgrades are a pass, the Soul Trap could be cool, but when you're wounding on a 2+ already it's not necessary. Overall the statline of the Archon makes him a beast in CC, and the addition of the Shadowfield makes him almost a no-brainer if you have any CC aspect to your army.

Succubus - A pretty solid choice overall if you don't have the points for the Archon w/ shadowfield. Pretty similar wargear options, and the gladitorial stat line makes this girl no chump in combat. Take her with a squad of wyches if you want to tear apart some MEQ, but the lack of AP 2 CC weaponry limits her versatility. I still recommend a blast pistol, as BS6 is nothing to scoff at. Still, I prefer the Archon with a wych squad, but if you're hurting for points you can certainly do worse than a Succubus w/ blast pistol and agonizer.

Haemonculus/Haemonculus Ancient - These guys are the Mister Potato-Head's of your army. Not only to they gift their unit a free pain token (much more effective in 5th, but still a great choice), but with a wealth of specialty wargear, these guys can be kitted out for a multitude of situations. The template weapons, however, really shine. A liquifier is random, but the one time you get an AP 2 template will be worth it! The shattershard is even cooler, and with 6th edition wound allocation, you can maneuver around to snipe out IC'S and special weapons (in fact you could do this before, because each individual model under the template has to take a toughness test, which still applies in 6th edition). The shattershard can be a nasty surprise for your enemy, but its one-time use prevents it from being a must take. Most of the other wargear options usually aren't worth their points, but are definitely fun to mix and match if you want to catch your opponent off guard. In particular, I've tried taking the Casket of Flensing with a Haemonculus Ancient. The extra BS of the ancient makes the casket a potentially deadly option, but normally the Ancient isn't worth the points when the standard Haemonculus can accomplish the same job. Now let's look at the stats of these twisted docs. As far as the standard DE statline, with the standard Haemonculus you get +1 T, +1 Wound, +1 Attack, but a hit to Initiative, and no reliable save. These guys are pretty much a wash in close combat, unless you take some of their wargear options that make them at least semi-reliable in fisticuffs, but should not be depended on. Basically you take these guys for the free pain token, and in fact with the power of pain rule you can essentially split them off from a squad (or leave them in a transport) while the squad they were with runs away with the pain token (while the Haemonculus liquifies his enemies from the saftey of a raider). With FNP being less effective for Dark Eldar in 6th edition, these guys have been finding it harder and harder to make it into my list. Furthermore, the 30 point upgrade to the ancient usually isn't worth it unless you have the points to blow, as is the webway portal, since you can no longer assault out of reserves (not like there were many Dark Footdar armies out there anyway). Finally, these guys unlock wracks as troops. Wracks have never been my cup of tea (I will cover them in detail in the next installment), but if your taking them then you will definitely want to bring along some Haemonculi to increase their combat effectiveness. Haemonculi find their niche in wrack/grotesque lists, but they can still have a home with wych squads to increase their survivability, and then sit safely in a transport to drop some template beat down on other enemy units, creating quite the hassle for your opponent.

Lady Malys - With the general increase in psykers (at least from what I've seen) the biggest ability that sticks out is her power to be completely immune to psychic powers (as is her unit). That ability, along with her nifty redeploy trick, makes her pretty appealing, but very situational. Her lackluster close combat performance makes her even less versatile, so if you end up facing a non-psyker army you would have been much better off taking an Archon. For 130 points she's decently well costed for what she does, take her if you plan on seeing a lot of psykers but don't depend on her CC abilities. Not having EW and being only T3 has significant drawbacks as well, along with the lack of a shadowfield. I still prefer a kitted out Archon for less points, but the Lady buffs your army a bit more so certainly not a bad choice.

Asdrubal Vect - This dude is an Archon on CRACK. He's got all the goodies, including a shadowfield, a poisoned 3+ power weapon (unfortunately only AP3), and preferred enemy everything! On top of that, he can regen wounds with his shooting attack, and lets you seize on a 4+, which can lead to some tricky mind games with your opponent. Furthermore, He's got 4 wounds, 5 attacks base, I8, WS8, BS8 and is fearless. Wow. So why wouldn't you take this guy? Well, for starters, his point cost is through the roof. At 240 points, I don't recommend taking him in games less than 1850. Also, without Eternal Warrior, you will cry your eyes our when he gets insta-killed by strength 6 or higher. Sure the shadowfield mitigates this, but with enough fire he's destined to fail. Vect is an absolute beast, but lack of a reliable TEQ killer and Eternal Warrior means you should take him at your own risk, but know that he can do great things for the army. Side Note: while the Dias of Destruction is cool, it's almost never worth the points, sorry!

Drazhar, Master of Blades - WOW this guy is expensive. 230 points?? That's pretty crazy for a guy that doesn't do anything to buff your entire army. However, this guy is pretty much unmatched in CC. Being T4 and having the only Eternal Warrior in the codex, on top of his 2+ armor save (now more valuable in 6th edition) ensures that he will be surviving for a while. Plus, his Demi-Klaives have been errated to be AP2, which makes him the only sure-fire terminator killing CC unit in the codex. This guy can tear up entire units on his own, and is even deadlier with a squad of wyches or incubi. Despite all the upsides on this guy, I just can never justify dropping the points on him. I can take two fully kitted out archons for that price, who can be just as effective in CC. This guy has plenty of potential, and he's certainly worth a shot in 6th edition, but I personally believe that points are better spent.

Lelith Hesperax - The uber-succubus of the wych cults, Lelith brings yet another monster in CC. Her attacks flat out ignoring armor saves is pretty rare to find, however at S3 with no combat drugs she's not going to be wounding all that much anyways (even with around 10-11 attacks). Again, the lack of Eternal Warrior is scary, especially without the luxury of a shadowfield, making Lelith another high risk choice for your HQ slot. She is slightly overcosted for what she does, but if you like the idea of the queen gladiator leading a charge of scantily-clad warrior chicks then look no further. There are definitely worse choices in the codex, but I feel like she does not provide as much value as the more survivable archon, and wyches are already good enough to hold their own in CC.

Urien Rakarth - As the creepy Haemonculus character of the codex, you can bet this guy is strange. He gets to regen wounds every turn, can insta-kill with his special gauntlet, is T5, and passes out pain tokens like they're candy. He would be an absolute beast in challenges if it weren't for one issue, his lack of a decent save. Having to depend on a 5+ FNP is not reliable enough to make him a beatstick in challenges despite his wargear and statline. I think he definitely has potential if you can keep him safe, and if you're lucky enough to give 3 units free pain tokens it could be awesome. I love characters that buff your entire army, and he definitely does, but is it worth the cost? That's certainly up to you, but I would be cautious with this flesh sewing monstrosity.

Duke Sliscus the Serpent - By far my favorite character in the book. The army-wide buffs that he gives are invaluable, and this guy is a steal at 150pts. If you are taking units with drugs then he is your best friend, as well as if you take any warrior or trueborn squads. I like to load him up on a raider w/ splinter racks and a full warrior squad. This unit can absolutely dish out the pain, especially from rapid fire range, and is very fun to field. In addition, I think he can find a place with a shard carbine trueborn squad to fly around the battlefield and just spit venom at the enemy, ruining the days of high tougness and monstrous creatures. On top of these buffs, he has survivability in the form of a shadowfield, and is also awesome in CC, being able to ignore armor saves. This guy is the trifecta: Survivability, Army Buffs, and Combat Effectiveness. You could easily build an entire army to take advantage of what the Duke has to offer, and I think you'll be quite pleased with the results.

Kheradruakh, the Decapitator - No. Just no.

Baron Sathonyx - I'd have to say, the Baron probably comes in at second amongst the special charaters. For a measly 105 points you unlock hellions as troops, get a shadowfield, and have a pretty decent combat unit. The +1 to deployment roll can win you games as DE, when you love that first turn. Unfortunately, Hellions are too expensive for my liking, but having stealth with the Baron does make them a bit more survivable. And if you aren't taking hellions with him, he's hard to fit in elsewhere. I've heard people putting him with Beastpacks, which I think could be devastatingly awesome. That definitely requires some testing, but I recommend trying it! The Baron is a solid character choice, but sometimes has trouble fitting in my armies. Even still, you definitely get a lot of value for what you pay for.

Well that's it for HQ choices in the Dark Eldar Codex! Part 2 is coming soon and I'll take a look at the troop  choices in the book (including those unlocked by characters). Hopefully you found this helpful, and please comment with any suggestions or your own opinions on the commanders of the dark city!


  1. Wow, nice tactica, I have just aquired a dark eldar army, look forward to reading the rest of your tactica.

    1. Thanks! Troop choices are my next project, but we also have a battle report in the works that showcases my tournament list. I'm looking forward to getting more feedback!

  2. New FAQ gives Huskblade AP2. Also all incubi attacks are AP2 now...

  3. Urien Also allows you to make Grotesques S6 for only 5 more points a model. Not a bad deal in a Coven based army, of for anyone who wants to take a lot of them.

    1. Great point. I would love to do an army like that, I just wish Grotesques weren't literally $25.00 a model. If anyone knows a good way to convert them, please let me know!

    2. Vampire Counts Crypt Horrors are an option. Just stick some DE bits on them and they'll look very grotesque.

  4. I agree with your outlook on the Archon. By far my fav character, a basic VB atchon is quite a beast for the points. Of course I change my army every year to keep things fresh and to force me to re-learn the army and get better. So I an running Urien. I have used him 4 times so far and he has been awesome every time. In a challenge his Clonefield is a nasty nasty thing, and the T5 is quite handy. Of course I run him with some Grots, 2+ LOS is almost as good as a shadowfield when you have multiple wound models around. And I only run one unit of wracks. I find they are great for soaking up overwatch so that units of wyches can charge in unscathed.
    Skari - out.

  5. I saw a guy who converted Skaven rat ogres as grotesques, basically just some head and arm swaps. Put some glowing tubing on them and bam, they look sweet. You could probably find some pictures of it if you searched grotesque Skaven conversion (or many that would just give you ugly rat pictures...).